Government to directly commission affordable housing

The government has announced plans to directly commission the building of affordable homes on public land.

The first wave of development is expected to see 13,000 houses built across five sites: Connaught Barracks in Dover, Northstowe in Cambridgeshire; Lower Graylingwell in Chichester; Daedelus on Waterfront in Gosport; and Old Oak Common in north west London. These developments will begin this year and the government has promised that up to 40 per cent will be affordable ‘starter’ homes.

Announcing the plans, Prime Minister David Cameron said direct commissioning will speed up development by allowing smaller firms to build on government sites where planning permission is already in place. This is expected to support smaller builders as well as new entrant to the market who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land.

Cameron said: “Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.

“Backed up with a further £1.2 billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output.

“Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.

“It is also encouraging that the majority of these sites will already have planning permission in place as obtaining permission is all-too-often a lengthy and protracted process – avoiding this time delay should help house builders increase their supply much more quickly.”